Green and leafy vegetables have a wide range of health benefits. They are a rich source of beta-carotene, iron, antioxidants, vitamins, chlorophyll, and dietary fiber. Below are my favorite 5 that are a must to incorporate any and all diets!
The dark green color of these vegetables is due to their high levels of chlorophyll which is essential to photosynthesis in plants, helping them to absorb energy from light. Chlorophyll oxygenates and detoxifies the blood and is rich in amino acids and enzymes.
Leafy greens are so important to our diets and shouldn’t be missed or overlooked.
KALE is considered one of the most nutrient dense vegetables on the planet. It’s also one of the best sources of vitamins and minerals. Kale features antioxidants, lutein, carotenoids, and beta-carotene which all help prevent diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancers from oxidative stress. This leafy green is also high in alpha linolenic acid which is an omega-3 fatty acid. Cooking Kale can reduce its benefits, minerals, and vitamins. Try adding kale to a chickpea salad with a lemon juice based dressing!
SWISS CHARD is rich in vitamin K, supports bone strength, and can help reduce type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. It also has anti-inflammatory and phytonutrient antioxidant properties as well as potassium which helps reduce blood pressure and stress on the cardiovascular system. Try adding swiss chard to soups or stir-fries!
SPINACH is known for its high iron content but it also contains vitamins and minerals like folate, vitamin K and A, and manganese. Folate is important for pregnant women and those planning on having a baby, as low folate levels are linked to neural tube defects in fetuses in early stages of pregnancy. Try Spinach raw or cooked from pastas to salads!
COLLARD GREENS are a type of cabbage but have a sweeter and fresher taste to the traditional cabbage. Collard greens have high levels of vitamin C and K, supports your immune system and bone health as well as being full of iron, potassium, and fiber. Try shredding collard greens and adding them to stir-fries!
BEETROOT GREENS the leaves of beetroot have high levels of potassium, calcium, riboflavin, fiber, and vitamins A and K. The greens of beetroots also have high levels of magnesium, copper, and manganese which supports your whole body. The beta carotene and lutein are known to help prevent eye disorders. It’s also higher than spinach in iron. Try adding beetroot greens to salads or soups!
All leafy vegetables can be eaten in salads. The darker colored greens are more nutritious and have higher amounts of beta-carotene which could also make them taste stronger. Blanch the stronger tasting greens in broth and add to soups and stews.
Leafy greens have the added advantage of being excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber while being very low in calories, and reducing overall calorie consumption is one thing that has been clearly associated with a longer life span.
Balch CNC, Phyllis A.. Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal.